Development Pattern library User experience

Launching the pattern library

Lego blocks organisedToday we launched version one of the pattern library on – a collection of 30 key user interface elements. These should allow developers to quickly bring a consistent and high quality user experience to new and existing Jisc websites.

When to drop the beta tag

Working out when to lose the beta label is tricky. For us the big thing was making sure the patterns were stable. They should work (for makers and users) and meet our own standards (including accessibility). This doesn’t mean everything is perfect – but known issues should be minor. When we release fixes, makers should be able to upgrade to them without anything breaking.

Effort and experience

Getting this far with the pattern library and the site has been a huge undertaking.

Ben’s fantastic work to produce clean and elegant patterns, extending and developing the Jisc look. CX’s efforts in pattern creation, support and advice. The heroic work of our front end developers, Leigh and Tom, to not only build patterns, but to raise the quality of our engineering, and keep us true to our standards. All tied off with the dark arts of Simon and the back end developers who made the site and the library delivery possible (and put up with us getting used to Git).

Meeting the team behind the BBC’s GEL was a great place to start the whole project – but it’s been a huge learning curve for us all. There aren’t many other (public) examples of what we were trying to achieve so a lot of the time we had to make our own way. We’ll try and post what we’ve learnt here, or if you’re interested then drop us a line.

How we’ll develop the library

First we’re going to start working through our known issues, and tidy up those loose ends.

We’re already working with some site owners to help them adopt the pattern library. We will be working with a handful more over the next few months. These transformations are a chance to iron out the kinks, make sure it’s easy to use, and to give live examples for others to see. We will also be creating new patterns as we encounter problems that need them.

Ultimately we expect use of the pattern library to become entirely self-service. We still want to have close contact with developers and service owners, but hopefully as more of a community – sharing experiences, issues, and through this – identifying new patterns or those that need work.

This regular feedback is how we plan to grow the library (and site). We know that to make the most of our investment we’ll need to keep it fresh – provide new patterns outside of the core set, and adapt and respond to new insight, and changing user behaviours and expectations.

Our ambition

Today is a big step towards our ambition of a consistent experience for users of all our sites. Tools to allow makers to create interfaces based on robust user experience and engineering principles. Increasing quality, reducing costs, and allowing us to react more quickly. Pride, passion and pace. Yep. Think this ticks all three.

By Richard West

Digital content and user experience manager in Jisc's group web team.


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